The Herald Bulletin

October 27, 2012

Kristy Gissendanner: 'Vivacious and sweet'

Man kills wife and leaves newborn, toddler alone before killing self

By Abbey Doyle
The Herald Bulletin

ANDERSON, Ind. — There were few times that Kristy Gissendanner let her newborn daughter leave the comfort of her arms. And if she did, it would be to place the infant in a bassinet near her.

Kristy, 26, snuggled Gabrielle as much as she could. She simply loved her role as a mom, said her sister, Melissa Miller.

And six-day-old Gabrielle and her 18-month-old brother Michael weren’t far from their mom when Harry Gissendanner shot and killed Kristy in their Anderson home on Nov. 2, 2004. He left the newborn in the bassinet and Michael roaming the house before going to a Fishers’ hotel room where he barricaded himself inside and used the gun to kill himself.

Melissa and her sister, Heather Miller, discovered Kristy’s body about 20 hours after she’d been killed. The children were unharmed.

The family knew of no history of violence between the two.

Both Melissa and Kristy’s mother, Debbie Miller, recalled Harry Gissendanner’s gambling problem holding such a grip on him that he would up and disappear at times. Weeks before Gabrielle was born, Kristy had reported him missing.

Once, when the couple lived in Virgina, Kristy returned home from her job with Amtrak to discover that Harry had sold their home — to feed his gambling habit. That’s when Kristy decided to move back to Anderson to buy a home. He eventually followed reappearing just about a week before their daughter was born.

Debbie described her daughter as “vivacious and sweet,” saying everyone adored her. Melissa said her sister was a free spirit and loved trying new things. Kristy, she added, was “always right” and was someone you wouldn’t want to face in a debate. Debbie and husband, Michael, so enjoyed their time with Kristy.

“She was very protective of us,” Melissa said. “She taught me how to play the flute and the basics of marching before I started so I could stand out from the other freshman. Playing in the band was the only time she was every completely focused.”

Kristy’s death shocked the family; they would later learn of Harry’s struggle with mental illness.

“Cherish each moment you have with your family because they could be gone in a second,” Melissa said, wiping away tears. “She just loved everyone. I never met a single person who said a bad thing about her.”

Debbie said the family misses Kristy tremendously. With the anniversary of her death just days away, thoughts of her were coming frequently. But then again, there isn’t a day that Debbie doesn’t think about her daughter.

“I wish she could have seen her babies grow up,” Debbie said, sadly. “And I want young women, anyone really that is getting into a relationship, to just really make sure they get to know them first before going into a commitment.”

Kristy and Harry Gissendanner had been married for about 18 months.